Sunwapta Falls consists of two waterfalls, one above the other. Both carve deep into the limestone to create a forceful torrent of water, falling from 60 feet (18 meters) and 30 feet (9 meters) respectively. The water itself originates from the famous Athabasca Glacier. Whether this is a fast photo stop-off or the starting point of some outdoor activities, you’ll want to take some time to admire the roaring falls.
The Sunwapta Falls are on the start of a 15-mile (25-kilometer) trail that leads to Fortress Lake and Hamber Provincial Park. Along the route, you’ll pass through the Chaba River Valley. A wildfire in 1967 actually rejuvenated much of the subalpine forest here. Since then it has been noted for its high population of moose and bear. You have the option to walk shorter trails around the falls.
In summer, you can also rent bikes, go rafting on the Sunwapta river, or even enjoy a camping trip in the area.
When hiking or biking around the area, it’s recommended you make noise as you go, so as not to give any bears a sudden shock which may lead to an attack. Clap, sing, or loudly talk with your companions and never approach the bears deliberately.
For a safe grizzly bear encounter, go to Sunwapta Falls Rocky Mountain Lodge. Here, you can meet Holo-Bear, their virtual, talking reproduction of a Kodiak grizzly. It’s a hit with kids, young and old. The lodge is also a good place to buy souvenirs and to refresh with a hearty meal. If you want to remain in the area for a while, check into one of its cabins, each one equipped with a fireplace.
From Jasper, Sunwapta Falls Rocky Mountain Lodge is a 45-minute drive southeast along Icefields Parkway. To see Sunwapta Falls at its best, visit in late spring, when the waterflow is at its peak due to fast-melting glacier water.